My story starts in 1952, during the Korean War. The AST of the infantry unit told me the unit was #3 on the call-up list; at the time many Guard units were already in Korea. My dad had been in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, in which his ship, USS Aulick, had been hit by two kamikaze planes, killing 32 gunners and other ship personnel. I was very proud of my dad’s service and was trying to follow in his footsteps. As it turned out the Guard unit never got called as the end to the war was over in March 1953. I stayed in the Guard unit for 5 years, but had a traveling job with AT&T and sometimes couldn’t meet for drills. I talked to the AST and reqested a transfer to Inactive Reserve, knowing it would put me head of the line at the draft board. Nine months later I got my notice to report to duty Jan. 14, 1957, and was delighted.
After basic, me and my wife were sent to Anchorage, Alaska, to work for two years for Alaska Communication System (ACS). The off-base assignment was great, but was very hard on a Tennessee guy with up to 6 ft. of snow and -40 temperatures. Upon transferring back to CONUS I re-enlisted and was sent to Fort Benning, Ga., where I worked under Post Signal and was assigned to a signal unit to work as chief operator of a Mars station. Eighteen months later, the signal company I was assigned to was deployed to Kaiserslautern, Germany, along with thousands of INF from Benning, as the Russians and East Germans were threatning to cross the line and take West Germany. As we know after the troop buildup, Russia backed down and opened the autobons. I had been extended on my enlistment but stayed with the unit until my release date came up. Upon reaching New York, I went to the Army Recruiting Office to check on my situation. He told me if I re-enlisted I would be sent back to Germany or to Korea, to neither of which you could take your dependents. At the time, I had a wife and two girls and was an E5 SGT and didn’t think I could support my family with the money I was making, so I took a discharge, went back to my old Guard unit and worked my rank up to CW3 and retired with 30 years’ service. I loved the military and recommend all able-bodied young people to spend at least two years in any unit they like.
We honor you, Robert Hooper.